Debate Topics

In school debate can play an active role in many subject areas from Geography, English and Science through to Citizenship and ESD. A useful stimulus for debate can be provided by presenting case studies which engage the students in consideration of controversial issues. Topics chosen can be Foot & Mouth Disease, the organic movement, genetic engineering or flooding; in fact, anything relating to the countryside which involves an element of controversy.

Suggested topics

Rural issues

  • public services e.g. transport, village shops, schools, health
  • employment
  • housing
  • country sports

Work of farmers

  • cultivation methods - organic, conventional and integrated crop management
  • land ownership issues
  • animal welfare
  • impact on environment

Pressure on farming to change

  • leisure and recreation resources
  • farmers managing & maintaining landscape
  • farm shops, farmers markets & sale of regional produce
  • use of green field sites for building

Food, health and environment

  • what makes a healthy diet?
  • food safety - effects of fertilizers and pesticides on environment & health
  • spread of diseases e.g. BSE, FMD
  • habitat maintenance, creation and encouraging biodiversity


  • food trading prices - trade barriers, fair trade for all, subsidies, role of large food retailers, exploitation - labour& market demand, over production, starvation, distribution, food dumping
  • rich & poor farmers

Transport of food

  • global economy
  • live exports & Freedom Foods
  • seasonal production, local growing costs - distances as food miles covered, fuel prices, processing location